Inquisitor 1708 Coward by Skylark

July 27, 2021

Skylark this week, on what is officially the hottest day ever. Well, it is in Northern Ireland anyway, and feels like it is here too. Rather too hot for me, as I find myself hiding in the shade, looking with some bemusement of pictures on the news of people “out enjoying the sunshine”. This is Wales, it is not supposed to be like this.

Thankfully all is in order in the world of the Inquisitor, with Ladies’ Month continuing in the capable hands of Skylark with misprints, highlighting, and letters to alter all being present and correct. What was not present and correct was my eraser which had mysteriously gone AWOL, but thankfully there was an Oxford one hiding in the drawer that was so suitably impressive as such things go that I was tempted to pop up a photo, except that it would leave you even more bemused than you no doubt already are.

Onward then, to the grid fill, where much it felt in the way of deduction was required to complete. To the SE that bête noire of the poor solver, the difficult four letter one, being a case in point. Cells. AS evidently at the start, a guess that it’ll be I at the end, a misprint for Curie, a trip to the BRB later and bob’s your uncle. Lots of familiar looking answers to ease us through, including the ever popular AVESTA, but on the other hand the lesser spotted QANAT.

Which is to say that by lunchtime I had most done while feeling somewhat tired and emotional and less than WITTED which was my LOI, and only filled in after a little solid sustenance.

My misprints needing a little work, it took a little longer than was strictly necessary to spot that the rhyme was One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, DOOR and STICKS in the grid among the few I could remember. I still have DELLE instead of DELVE, but, well, c’est la vie.

Two letters in the middle of the grid altered to give AUTHOR, and the cowardly HEN appears.

What would ensue then was one of those futile Google searches that no doubt leaves their advertising bots totally bemused, as I headed resolutely down the blind alley that was the Cowardly Rooster, Henny Penny, and other such stories / nursery rhymes. Only much later would it occur that the “followers” we were looking for were in the BRB all along, being things following HEN – PARTY, PECK, etc.

58 cells duly highlighted, if my counting skills are still intact, and we’re done. A nice challenge which fell together very satisfyingly, so thanks to Skylark and all involved in what is a good run of puzzles, though if less than melting weather could be arranged for next time, then that would be good, ta.


2 Responses to “Inquisitor 1708 Coward by Skylark”

  1. Willow said

    First of all – many thanks to JoW for the detailed explanation.

    This was my first attempt an Inquistor for some months, having failed abjectly the last time round. Twenty years ago I remember being able to complete barred crosswords in the Indy in an afternoon – things have become much harder.

    I worked at this on and off for over a week, after which I had filled the grid and maybe understood 80% of the extra cryptic content. This was only because I googled some internet comments half way through and discovered that, rather than looking for heroines in Spenser’s Faerie Queen or Chaucer’s Wife of Bath, I should instead be thinking of a nursery rhyme. Fair enough.

    If I have any complaint it is that substituting one letter for another can be very ambiguous. There were three clues in which I chose one option only to discover later that another was required. RANG/RANK/RANT; CURSE/CURVE/CURIE; SLIP/SNIP/SLIT; in all cases the wordplay made sense to me. Also, I decided 42a was a normal clue and that DO was a synonym for BOOK (I was booked for speeding/I was done for speeding), not that a change to COOK was required.

    Didn’t get AUTHOR, but it is now obvious. Did, I’m glad to say, equate HEN with CHICKEN – eventually.

    I think I am currently doing better with Proper by Vismut.

    I have to say I am very impressed with the setter’s talent. Astonishing – I wouldn’t know how to start to create such a puzzle myself.

    • jonofwales said

      I believe that the old Indy barred puzzles were pitched at the easier end of the scale. Don Manley commented some years ago regarding the move to something more akin to the Listener. The EV is still for the most part at that level, I think, though I only solve it sporadically.

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